If you like the emm labs sound, you might want to consider their XDS1 as well as the other two you mention, which are both excellent. It has a superior transport in it compared to the CDSA, and it sounds a lot better overall to me than the CDSAs that I have heard. I've been using mine for a few years and am very happy with it.
I am not using the Esoteric K05 but I do use an Esoteric UX3 player which also plays dvd audio. The VRDS NEO transport is one of the best in the business. My player uses the Burr Brown 1704 dacs and I believe the K05 uses the AK dacs which are supposed to be one of the best dacs. I have always found the EMM players very ruthlessly revealing (a kind word for bright).
"I have always found the EMM players very ruthlessly revealing (a kind word for bright)."
I have always found people with subpar systems like yours who make criticisms like this to be dull.
No brightness in my system with the XDS1, though I have a tubed preamp and amplifier.
I think, at the end of the day you must know what your sonic priority is. Mine for example is true in tone, no sonic fingerprint, to be able to sound like the real thing when it is on the software AND I am nor mad for SACD (most sound pretty lifeless and boring). My decision was the CDSA-SE because it is able to do what I expect and it is really special with regular CD's. II was not mad for the higher model (good as it may be) because any digital investment is burned money after some time, so I bought it 2.hand and that way it is ok. I had a lot of those expensive Players with all the usual nonsense (addition clock and so on) and when I am really honest to myself, that Players is the one of the very few in the last 15 years which does not make me cry after 20 min.
The Esoteric (and others like Accuphase....) are good from detail but I always got the impression, all these Players do more or less the same. They are exchangeably, a little bit more of 'that' here and a little bit less of 'that' there... and after 2 years no one cares about them. My choice was EMM because it has something others simply can't deliver: The Magic in voices or Performances.
But it has its limits: When the Software is average, you will hear it and the better your Preamp is, the more you will notice that. The Problem is mainly in the masterings but...that is another story.
If you don't need SACD playback, I'd suggest listening to the Playback MPS-3.
It's also a good foundation for a computer audio system - handling DSD2x and PCM 24/384 as well.
I have the MPS-5 and it is very close to the EMM Labs XDS-1. The XDS-1 is more neutral and I can hear better bass extension on the XDS-1 but it is really a small divide otherwise.
Kevinkwann....."I have always found people with subpar systems like yours who make criticisms like this to be dull."
My system certainly is not subpar. Think before you assume.
"My system certainly is not subpar. Think before you assume."
Why would you assume I assumed? I looked. And it is.
so why don't you tell me what you think is subpar with my system?
If you're happy with your system I wouldn't be concerned with what Kevinkwann or anyone else thinks. Someone passing judgment without hearing the system is shallow and rude. If you read other posts by him you'll realize he often negatively comments on the systems of others but ironically doesn't post his audio system. It's not worth the bother, enjoy what you have.
Thanks Charles. I am perfectly fine with my system and enjoy it immensely. So Kevinkwann, why don't you tell me about your UN-subpar system so I can gush accordingly.
"I am perfectly fine with my system..."
Yet presumably in it the CDSA was "bright." If so, you have system issues. If not, your comments are merely irresponsible.
You are evading the question as to what your system comprises of. Come on now, we all want to gush over it.
I live in a van down by the river.
Yeah, I thought as much.
"Yeah, I thought as much."
That fact that you're thinking at all is a major milestone.
Everything out of your mouth is either negative or sarcastic. I will waste no more time with the likes of you.
Yes, that's the way to go. Engaging trolls like him is truly a waste of everyone's time and effort.